Claude Noel has five days to get his Winnipeg Jets up and flying by the weekend.
And he’s not wasting any time.
The Jets spent most of the second day of their condensed training camp for the condensed regular season working on team play while trying to build line combinations and defensive pairings – all in the hopes that by Saturday’s 2013 opener against the Ottawa Senators at MTS Centre there is some sense of on-ice chemistry developing.
"We’re early right now in a lot of areas regarding who’s playing with who… today is really our first day," said Noel. "You can make assessment on this line and that line and this combination, but for us they know clearly there is an evaluation taking place. The lines could change tomorrow. The D pairings could change tomorrow.
"Right now we’re just building the foundation of team play and trying to go through different areas and zones and make sure we understand basically the foundation because it’s going to be an escalating process involving conditioning and preventative maintenance and injuries as well."
The Jets, as expected, did pair centre Olli Jokinen with wingers Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood while keeping the Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler unit from last season intact. Jim Slater centred Chris Thorburn and Mark Scheifele while Alex Burmistrov spent a great deal of the session with Alex Ponikarovsky and either Antti Miettinen or Spencer Machacek.
All of that is hardly carved in stone, however. But with the shortened camp there will be little time for experimenting.
"If you have a two-three week training camp you can juggle people and this and that," said Noel. "Where’s chemistry in here? You can see already we’re doing five on five and there is some areas where we need to see where people are. We’re making assessments, all of us, every day. And as the week goes on later you’re going to have a pretty good idea of who’s where and you’re going to get comfortable the last day or two with your group and then you start talking potentially about lines and who the pairs are. The players will have put themselves in the position they are."